REVIEW: The Measure Of Anand

(Apologies to anyone alarmed by last week's little April Fool – rest assured, TATTGOC is back and bigger than ever ... possibly thanks to this hefty buffet)

The New Anand, Pollokshields

The Time: March 25, 8pm

Booking Name: John McTiernan – dine hard!

The Pub Aforehand: Samuel Dow’s, Nithsdale Road

In Attendance: Trampy, The Tramp, Rabbie Shankar, The Gheezer, Ravi Peshwari, Rogan Josh Homme, The Birmingham Wan and a veggie newcomer …

Decor: From the outside, The New Anand resembled a traditional, 1970s-style curryhouse – or at least what people think that curryhouses used to look like. Inside, there were various characterful features and secret nooks. One Clubber, however, was heard to remark that it didn’t seem all that “new”.

Expectations: The New Anand had been on the TATTGOC radar for a while, and had received some good reviews online. Friends of the blog – including one with the slightly alarming Twitter handle "JiSm" – had given the takeaway side the thumbs-up too.

The Experience:

There are few things that The Tramp loves as much as a curry. Cider, perhaps, or the feeling that comes from landing a perfect Ultra combo in Street Fighter IV. But one thing guaranteed to warm his stout heart is the prospect of driving a van. To hear him opine on the relative merits of long wheelbases and possible load space dimensions is to hear poetry unfurl from his warrior’s soul. So the gods must have been smiling to align the cosmos in such a way that TATTGOC’s March excursion coincided with The Tramp’s day out in a Mercedes-Benz Vito.

Loyal valet Trampy was also along for the ride. Not, it should be pointed out, because there was much lifting involved – then he would have most likely remained indoors with his music and his art. No, Trampy was there simply to enjoy the boon of companionship, and to seize the chance to play the Smokey And The Bandit theme tune through the tinny speakers of his recently acquired iPhone whilst bombing down the M8 toward Edinburgh. We’ve got a long way to go, and a short time to get there …

This long-ish day of mild manual labour was partly the reason Trampy and The Tramp arrived at a venerable Southside boozer in a conspiratorial mood. Nothing works up an appetite like hanging in a van, and having read glowing reports of The New Anand’s buffet selection, the rogueish pair agreed that they would attempt to talk the squad into foregoing their usual a la carte option for the first time in TATTGOC’s picaresque history. Their strategy? Divide and conquer. Bend the ears of those first to arrive, lash together a popular consensus, and then hurriedly push the bill through before anyone could mount an effective rebuttal. (It probably helped that TATTGOC’s resident legal scholar Rumpole Of The Balti was unable to attend.)

It was an audacious gambit. But by the time the othe Curry Clubbers began spilling into Samuel Dow’s – an old-fashioned howff that remains a spendidly upholstered model of comfort and convenience – the thirsty Tramps had been sinking Tennent's for a solid 90 minutes. What their debating skills lacked in nuance, they perhaps made up for in volume. And so it was that the squad – comprising of Southside residents Rabbie Shankar, The Gheezer, Rogan Josh Homme and The Birmingham Wan, plus Partick monkey Ravi Peshwari – were implored to consider the buffet option. And to a man they agreed, without batting an eyelid. The TATTGOC theocracy triumphs again! What must new recruit GB have made of it all?

The New Anand may have been new to the Curry Club but its prominent setting – near a busy Pollokshields roundabout – and distinctive curved frontage meant that it had been talked up as a possible TATTGOC venue for a while: The Gheezer had been suggesting it for a good few months and Rogan Josh Homme had flagged it up repeatedly, alhough he was never quite able to remember its actual name. From the very start, there was a great big tick in the “Highlights” column – the restaurant is literally footsteps away from Samuel Dow’s. The eight-strong squad entered in high spirits, and were relieved to see that the place was fairly busy. This might have been aided by the fact that the room was dominated by a large empty table waiting for TATTGOC, pushing the other diners to the edges of the vaguely circular dining area.

An order of eight pints of Kingfisher was logged, and the hungry clubbers settled in. First timer GB – who has since decided to claim the legendary TATTGOC title of "Bawsaag" as his very own – is a vegetarian, the first there's been since poor Slumdog Millionaire's Shortbread tied his spotted handkerchief onto the end of a stick and set off for Big London. After establishing that there would be sufficient vegetarian options to ensure Bawsaag wasn't short-changed, the buffet option was in play. This blanket decision meant there was no need for the usual theatre and pageantry of Clubbers bartering over possible starter combination and working out the perfect rice/naan equation on a napkin. Instead, the menu was helpfully painted up on the wall above the steaming buffet like some kind of spicy roadmap. As the crew munched thoughtfully on poppadoms, it occurred to them there was no real precedent for a TATTGOC buffet (except, perhaps that surprise February outing in Edinburgh). What was the correct protocol? It seemed like a tense eight-man standoff at the end of a particularly lurid spaghetti western – who would break rank and go for the scran first? If everyone bum-rushed the show at the same time, the evening would rapidly descend into chaos. It was a tense moment.

But then – innately, unspokenly, unconsciously – the team filed up in an orderly manner, the human chain expanding and contracting like some kind of be-paunched helical spring. A selection of spicy tandoori and bhaji starters were piled up various plates, with plenty of sauces and pickles slathered on too. Despite their outward bluster, the Tramps had feared that continuous trips to the buffet would mean constant interruptions to earnest, philosophical dialogue that has become synonymous with TATTGOC: like Plato, only over a plate o' biryani. Perhaps surprisingly, return trips to the horn of pakora plenty didn't seem to puncture the usual lively debates, even when some doughty Clubbers managed three separate trips. At the halfway stage, things were going well, and there were still other diners arriving to sit-in, suggesting a regular, faithful clientele.

You ever heard of the phrase "a New York minute"? Johnny Carson famously said it's the interval between a Manhattan traffic light turning green and the guy behind you honking his horn. There may be a new contender for that infinitesemal measuring unit – the time between a Curry Clubber finishing his starters, wiping his brow and heading back to the buffet for mains. The waiter was happy to bring out an additional bowl of dhal – pretty spicy daal, at that – to bolster the veggie options, and most of the currynauts seemed keen to sample at least a mouthful of every single one of the dishes The New Anand had to offer. By the time the second round of Kingfishers was ordered, the plates were beginning to look like the discarded mixing palettes of impatient oil painters, daubed with oranges, greens, browns and reds. The dishes were generally of a good standard – with perhaps a focus on the greatest hits of curry rather than paradigm-smashing experimental stuff – and the rice and naan just kept on a-comin'.

As curry entropy began to assert its inexorable pull, slowing our currynauts' thoughts, speech and rate of consumption, there was a chance to better appreciate The New Anand's interior. While definitely a restaurant, and one that has been around for a while, at times the decor gave the impression of being in someone's front room. This relaxed feeling extended to the service, in that it was ever-helpful but never overbearing or hover-y. There was a sense of being left to get on with it, almost of time actually stopping, the better for people to enjoy their dinner. Perhaps this was the restaurant at the end of the universe that Douglas Adams was always going on about.

Such cosmic thoughts – plus a fair bit of lager – had obviously scrambled Trampy's brain even more than usual. Having requested the bill, he proceeded to confidently assert that it would cost the assembled a little over £18 each, including service (a very generous tip, it turned out – almost double what it needed to be). The lady who accepted the bill suggested that Trampy had paid too much. "No, no!" he said, with the debonair nonchalance that only comes from being in charge of someone else's cash. "It was totally worth it!"

And he was sort of right.

Range Of Drinks: Tennent’s and Kingfisher on tap, plus a decent range of spirits behind the sort of tidy bar alcove every Curry Clubber secretly wishes they had installed in their living room.

Highlights: Good atmosphere, good food, excellent value.

Lowlights: The pre-mapped, set-in-stone buffet could maybe have done with a few more “special” dishes.

The Verdict: A rejuvenating experience!

The Damage: £123.60 (tip: £23.40)

4 comments:

Tikka Mabaws said...

Ah the buffet - always OK, rarely fantastic. Say, is there an outing planned for May? Whereaboots?

Trampy said...

Wise words from Tikka Mabaws there ... tune in this Thursday for more of his Foreign Curryspondence, from another far-flung corner of the globe.

King of Korma said...

Nice review, I stumbled across it as I randomly searched for reviews of this restaurant that's a family favourite of ours!

Great little place that I'll always think of like my new favourite band, I don't want it spoiled by the masses!

Trampy said...

Good to hear The New Anand is good for families ... let us know if you have any recommendations for other places for us to try, King Of Korma.

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